‘Sky Fire’ – Konza sunset

There are those moments we all have that forever remain in the deepest valleys of our hearts and minds. One of these moments I share with one of my closest friends, Miss Rachel Lehr. Our shared love for hiking the surrounding prairie landscape of the Kansas Flint Hills led us to an evening of laughter and a breath-taking sunset.

Truly amazing sunsets have the ability to stop you in your tracks, to make you run for your camera, to find everyone you can to share it with. But, like many of the best things in life, sunsets are extremely fragile – changing in an instant – reminding us to stop running and just let the experience flow over us. At one point I remember Rachel whispering “Its on fire!” Within twenty minutes the sun sank lower and the clouds changed from dusky french blue to light pink, hot pink, then orange, crimson, and finally dark violet and navy.

I had ventured before to take an image (one of probably 100) captured in the moment and paint it in watercolor. It is just so difficult to capture a moment of the sky’s passion in a soft and soothing media that I decided to try in out in acrylic impasto, a media full of passion and vibrancy. Again the adventure was more than I had planned, becoming stressful, confusing, and downright ugly at times. I’d probably never try this image again at this grand of scale, but I’m glad I pushed myself. So much so, I’m proud to share that I have entered this piece ‘Sky Fire’ in the 2011 Kansas State Fair – Fine Arts – Professional Division, September 9-18 in Hutchinson, Kansas. I will also be participating in the ‘Plein Aire’ Contest, in which I will be painting on the fairgrounds during the mornings on Sept 9-10. It made me kind of nervous, so I decided it was something I should do. Naturally.

‘Sky Fire’ painting process images_blank 30″x40″ canvas, inspiration photograph

a rough start blocking out zones with a brush, thinking “this is the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen”

adding impasto tree/forest massing, still pretty darn ugly

the part I liked, the upper sunset into clouds

the blending and texture in wet paint, my favorite part of the process, somewhat like watercolor, but paints never fully blend like in watercolor

adding in highlights in the grass sections of the landscape and more shadow at edge of tree lines

beginning of the more difficult part, the slight gradations of sunset, especially tough with a sky nearly 4ft wide.

nearly completed within the studio, only grass blades and signature left to add

up close with the waving grasses, from afar the many hues blend to form one, up close you can see the hot greens, deep violets, blues and warm greys.


The vibrance and warmth of a Kansas prairie sunset – an evening sky on fire.

Interested in having this painting in your abode?


5 thoughts on “‘Sky Fire’ – Konza sunset

  1. Great post, wonderful to see the process and inspiring to hear how you pushed through the “it’s ugly” parts of the work! The final product is indeed beautiful. I seem to be getting lots of lessons this week in pushing our personal limits, I think the Universe is trying to tell me something :-)

    • Tamara,
      Thank you so much for your kind words! Maybe the universie is trying to tell you something… who knows what is on your horizon. I’ve heard more than once that most regrets relate to NOT doing something rather than doing it. You’ve got my vote, go for it!

  2. well I am fairly new to kansas and love the beautiful sunsetsand this is a beautiful painting wow! hope to see it tonight at the kansas state fair!!!

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